Save time – become a Gmail / Outlook / Thunderbird power user

I was asked a question on how to become a more effective user of email , so I thought I’d share what works for me …

Microsoft office Logo
Don’t read your emails first thing, or you’ll spend the rest of the day following somebody elses priorities. Organize your day first, then read your emails.

– When reading emails , try and touch each email only once. Delete it, forward it , respond to it or diary a time to deal with a specific issue.

– If you don’t already have an email address , sign up for Gmail. Not only does it automatically stop a lot of Spam for you, but it allows you to organise your emails by search , pretty much like you do on the web.

– If you’re a small business , you can also switch your email hosting to Gmail (and leave your web site where it is) using ‘Google for your domain‘. You keep your existing emails (e.g. , have the same excellent anti-spam filters and are still able to use Outlook to get your email. While you sacrifice some privacy, it means that your email is available even when your website is not. It also gives you web and mobile access to your email when you are on the road.

– If you own your own webname (domain, e.g., setup a ‘catchall’ email address that forwards mail automatically your own email account. This means that you sign up for a new website (e.g. you can use an email address of Not only does it make it easier to block spam , if they try selling your information to a3rd party, you’ll know straight away.

Get to know RSS (news feeds). They’re integrated into the latest browsers and Google has a version called ‘reader’. You choose when you want to read the ‘latest news’ from websites, instead of newsletters polluting your inbox.

Moaning about Struts 1 won't help you move to Struts 2

(Struts is one of the most popular way for companies to build their websites. This was to be posted on Bill moaning about Struts 1 problems, but Bill’s blog isn’t accepting comments at the moment.)

Struts 2 Logo


I hate to spoil your Struts 1 party , but most of these problems have been known for some time (and the Struts team would be the first to articulate them). Struts 2 is a huge improvement and , as you mention, there are good alternatives out there (including Spring MVC).

The problem is that migration from Struts 1 to (for example) Struts 2 , while easy, still carries a risk for the project in question. It can be hard to convince the business decision maker when all they see is pain (‘so you’re going to break the existing site?‘) for very little gain (‘where’s the immediate payback of upgrading?‘).

My advice is to stick with Struts 1 on existing projects. Use Struts 2 (or even better, Appfuse) on new projects. And for new code on existing projects, consider running them both side by side. They’re all tried and tested solutions.


Anybody up for Seedcamp Ireland (Dublin | Belfast | Newry | Dundalk)?

At a recent OpenCoffee Dublin event Brian Cleland of InterTrade Ireland mooted the idea of a Seedcamp Ireland. He’d love to see it be held in Newry or Dundalk (as cross-border networking is really his thing), but is realistic enough to consider other locations.

Seedcamp logo

To quote the main Seedcamp website:

Seedcamp is where Europe’s top young founders can come together in one place.

From securing funding to developing the right network, young entrepreneurs in Europe face challenges in building globally competitive technology businesses. Through the provision of seed capital and a world class network of mentors, we want to provide a catalyst for Europe’s next generation of entrepreneurs.

We might need to use a different name, but would you be interested in an informal meetup of startups and investors? Given the turn in the property market, would investors be ooking to put their money into the startup technology sector? Where would you like to see it held?

Drogheda Library follows the Ryanair Model

Think of Libraries as an early version of the internet, with books instead of pdf’s and web pages. You would think that as places of study , they would encourage student’s to use modern technology as part of revising for their Leaving Cert. Wrong.
Drogheda Borough Council Logo

Our local library in Drogheda has banned people from using laptops in the library. The excuse is that they can’t find a practical way of charging for the electricity they use. And don’t even think of asking for free wireless access. And all the student was asking for was a quick charge of his MacBook so he could do a final study session before his exam.
Forget about Web 2. If we don’t get the basics right we’re doomed.


The Drogheda Independent has just picked up on this story (almost word for word). More to follow.

Update 2.

O’Reilly Radar have a very interesting related story (If Libraries had shareholders) with detailed graphs showing how people are using libraries less and less for the books, and more and more for the internet

UCD – part time MSc in Advanced Software Engineering – open for applications

UCD are currently looking for applicants for the Msc in Advanced Software Engineering (a great title for a course!). I’m currently finishing up the dissertation on it , and would recommend the course, both on the basis of the content, and the format (6 weeks over 2 years + exams + dissertation). You’re still dealing with academia, but at least academia trying to look out at the real world.
More details , including how to apply , and in Mel’s mail below


I’m sending this email to anyone currently or previously involved in the MSc
in Advanced Software Engineering in UCD
. We’re recruiting new students for the coming session. If you know anyone who might be interested, please
forward them the email below.

many thanks


The School of Computer Science and Informatics in University College Dublin
invites applications for the MSc in Advanced Software Engineering.
Registration takes place in September 2007; the first module will be held in
December 2007.

This course is ideal for someone working in the software industry who wishes
to develop new skills and gain a postgraduate degree, but who cannot study
fulltime for whatever reason.

A student on this degree takes 6 week-long, intensive modules over a two
year period, followed by a writing a dissertation. Each module takes place
on the UCD campus, while the dissertation work is undertaken off-campus
under the supervision of a UCD academic.

For full details please see
Contact the course director directly at mel.ocinneide [at] with any
queries you may have.

Dr. Mel Ó Cinnéide,
School of Computer Science and Informatics, University College Dublin,
Belfield, Dublin 4.
tel: +353 1 7162482 fax: +353 1 2697262

Dublin Java Users Group (JUG)

If you’re reading this , you’ve missed the Dublin Java Users Group (previously known as the Dublin Java Meetup). Jakub will have his blog of the event up soon, including his mad take over the world plans.


Irish Business Networking – – better than OpenCoffee, Barcamp or BNI?

Derek Organ left me a comment about the new Investnet site. Investnet run the successful (offline, Dublin based) Wireless Wednesday and First Tuesday networking events. In terms of cold financial payback, the latter is the most successful IT-Business networking event(s) that I’ve taken part in. Now all these networks are available online, in a Facebook / LinkedIn style site.

Good to see an Irish Organisation ‘get’ the networking possibilities that Web2.0 brings.

InvestNet Ireland Logo
Also came up in conversation at Barcamp BelfastBusiness Networking International (BNI). Great if you do lots of little sales – e.g. Accountants, Solicitors, IT shops , as the aim is do to cross referrals between close, but not competing , companies.

I’ll (finally) get to OpenCoffee Dublin tomorrow (Thurs 5th July). Will it be better for networking than Investnet, Barcamp or BNI?